Southern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides)

Southern Fulmar

Picture : © Samuel Blanc /

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Procellariidae | [latin] Fulmarus glacialoides | [authority] Smith, 1840 | [UK] Southern Fulmar | [FR] Fulmar argente | [DE] Silber-Sturmvogel | [ES] Fulmar Austral | [NL] Grijze Stormvogel


Monotypic species


Fulmars are a distinct but diverse group of petrels that evolved from an early split from the ancient tubenose lineage, around 15 My ago. Some calculated a much earlier evolution of the fulmars, more than 26 My ago or placed the origin of the fulmarines in late Oligocene > 23 My ago.
Most species of this group occur in the Southern Hemisphere. Fulmarus glacialis is the only northern representative. Although there is a great difference in size, bill shape, colouring and behaviour, the members of this group show strong similarities in their skeletal structure. The differences are very much related to the environment they occupy and their respective foraging strategies. The enourmous hooked bill of the Giant Petrel (Macronectes) is the perfect tool for this ‘vulture of the southern seas’. The small bill of the Snow Petrel (Pagodroma) and the relative broad bill of the Cape Pigeon (Daption) are each good examples of the variety of feeding strategies on the other end of the spectrum. The ‘true’ Fulmars (Fulmarus) and the Antarctic Petrel (Thalassoica) take a position somewhere in between.

Physical charateristics

Easily recognized by its pale grey upper parts and white underparts. Its wings have a dark trailing edge, a white flash at the base of the primaries and variable amounts of black at the wingtips.

Listen to the sound of Southern Fulmar

[audio: Fulmar.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Santiago Imberti

wingspan min.: 81 cm wingspan max.: 91 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 50 cm
incubation min.: 41 days incubation max.: 50 days
fledging min.: 47 days fledging max.: 57 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Southern Ocean, Antarctica : widespread. This species breeds along the coast of Antarctica and outlying islands, including the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Sandwich del Sur), South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, Bouvet Island (to Norway) and Peter Island. At sea it can range as far north as the coats of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and South America up to central Chile and southern Brazil


This marine species is usually assoaciated with cold waters fringing the ice pack. Breeding begins in November and it is highly colonial, breeding on steep rocky slopes and precipitous cliffs on sheltered ledges or in hollows.


breeding colonies may contain hundreds of birds and are on cliffs in ice-free areas with the birds arriving in October. The courtship display consists of a pair sitting alongside each other while calling, waving their heads and nibbling and preening each other. The nest is a shallow scrape lined with stone chips. It is built in a spot sheltered from the wind on a ledge or scree slope or in a crevice. A single egg is laid during late November or early December. It is incubated for about 45 days with both parents taking turns in stints of 3-9 days. The young fledge after around 52 days

Feeding habits

It feeds mostly on crustaceans, fish and cephalopods with the proportion of each varying locally. Most food is taken by surface-seizing. It attends trawlers and will take galley refuse from ships. Southern fulmars frequently gather in flocks, often with other species of seabird such as Cape Petrels, when there is a concentration of food like a school of krill or around whaling ships and trawlers. Food is usually picked from the surface of the water but the bird will occasionally dive.

Video Southern Fulmar


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Southern Fulmar status Least Concern


Migratory, ranging widely over Southern Ocean. Young birds commonly reach subtropical zone following cold water currents, especially off W South America; sometimes straggles N to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand

Distribution map

Southern Fulmar distribution range map

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